Mackerel row "an independence opportunity for Salmond" –

Mackerel row “an independence opportunity for Salmond” Published:  17 May, 2011

CHARLES Clover, who made End Of The Line, the acclaimed and hard hitting film on overfishing, has said the mackerel dispute with Iceland and the Faroes could provide a major opportunity for Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond to assert Scottish independence on the issue.

But he adds that a similar prize – this time on maintaining the union  – was also there for UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Writing in his regular environmental column in the Sunday Times this week, he said the mackerel row remained unsolved and the gulf between the EU and Norway on one hand, and Iceland and the Faroes on the other, was widening. At stake was the health of the North Atlantic mackerel stock, so far one of the few species not affected by overfishing.

He maintained that while it remained an essentially European issue, Scotland had a major interest in its outcome. Organisations like the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission had not invoked the dispute procedure and even green organisations were sitting on the fence.

Clover said: “It seems to me there is an opportunity here for the political leader most determined to grasp it.Will it be Alex Salmond or David Cameron? A prize will go to the first man to recognise that these international organisations are failing to perform their task.”

He adds: It could also be part of the bigger game for Britain and for Cameron – the battle to keep the union.For all that, Salmond has just covered the map of Scotland in his party’s colours. He knows that only one in three Scottish voters supports independence. He is in search of a touchstone where he can prove Scottish competence and Cameron’s impotence or indifference.”

But he said if Cameron was able to claim credit for solving the dispute, the prospects for the union would be much brighter.